CARTER, COPLAND, PATITUCCI
Elliott Carter, Aaron Copland, John Patitucci
ANN SCHEIN, piano
"I can’t figure out which is the stand-out on this disc: Ann Schein’s playing or the pieces she chose to play. Either way, everyone wins. Ann Schein (joined by her husband, Earl Carlyss, in Copland’s Violin Sonata) brings an easy confidence to modern works for piano, none of which call for (or could stand) any kind of theatricality.
The Carter Piano Sonata (1946) was new to me and Ms Schein brings out the balanced richness of the work, a two-movement piece that exudes Carter’s (soon-to-be-abandoned) romantic youthfulness, but also points out his interest in alternating rhythmic structures. This is a Carter you have never heard, and Ms Schein does him justice.
The two works by Aaron Copland, Piano Variations (1930) and the Violin Sonata (1946), are most definitely a study in contrasts. The Variations was written when Copland was a young man, newly influenced by some of the more dour aspects of modernism. It’s a softly phrased, meditative work that really has no hint of the Copland to come. This is not to diminish the work. On a side-note, Bernstein loved this work, performed it many times, and both Carter and Roy Harris openly praised it. The Violin Sonata is more recognizably Copland. It was composed in 1946, and the opening chords will break your heart.
Jazz pianist John Patitucci’s short piece, ‘Lakes’ (2007) was written specifically for Ms Schein. Not quite “jazz”, it’s got all of jazz’s stops and starts, with a mildly pastoral middle section.
This is an excellent gathering of works, excellently performed. I recommend this for the Carter, but the Copland makes it a keeper."
American Record Guide - January/February 2009
"...excellent renditions of the music. [Schein's] approach [reveals] a lyricism, dare one say Romanticism, that is certainly present in the score. It is a deeply satisfying performance; she plays the very challenging music with firm confidence, color, and obvious affection... The Copland Piano Variations is also dispatched with great skill and conviction... [In the Sonata] Schein is joined here by her husband, Earl Carlyss, long-time member of the Juilliard String Quartet. His dark tone adds a melancholic flavor to the music... This excellent program concludes with a short work by the remarkably versatile musician John Patitucci, one of the world’s leading jazz double bass and bass guitar players. His kinetic, compelling piece was written for this pianist, and fits well into the spirit of the balance of the program."
Peter Burwasser, Fanfare - November/December 2009
"Collectors seeking [this] coupling will gain satisfaction from Ann Schein's seasoned technique, intelligent musicianship and natural affinity for the music's big-boned, declamatory keyboard idiom... her wide dynamic range, contrapuntal awareness and sense of harmonic tension and release never fail to hold attention. energetic and impeccably dovetailed ensemble work [by] Schein and her husband violinist Earl Carlyss achieve... "
Jed Distler, Gramophone - September 2009
"Ann Schein’s performance on this recording is exquisite. Her execution of each work exposes the depth of understanding and the rich relationship that she possesses, as any great pianist must, with each piece. Her method is marked by a succinctness and a certain exactness and focus that digs out and elucidates the identity of each tone. Her stamina gives to every moment in the musical composition its freshness and intended purpose. She is that caliber of performer who does not figure out and interpret the notes but handles them as a method-actor might handle a dramatic role – with the knowledge that the subject is a separate entity that one must inhabit rather than treat as an extension of her/his own body. She has lived with this music and the marriage between performer and composition results not in a display of the accomplishments of the pianist or the novelty of the composition but something in between – an ideal plain where all of us desire music to reside but that is so seldom achieved. She reaches into the realm of re-creation (not merely interpretation) that gives a physical dynamism to each musical phrase, and in turn the musical phrases behave humbly yet profoundly under her instinctive artistic guidance.
Nowhere is this more apparent than in her recording of Aaron Copland’s Piano Variations which I believe to be the zenith of the CD. The Piano Variations do not seek to impress our senses with the virtuoso-style piano writing of a Liszt or a Rachmaninoff. Instead they elect to speak in a more intimate nature. However, admitting to a more introverted attitude does not necessarily admit equally to the quietude and calm that presupposes a relaxed nature. Instead a certain unresolved anxiety dominates the dramatic nature of this work. The moments are isolated and silence profoundly penetrates in between the quixotic successions of musical phrases initiating the dramatic tensions inherent in the musical language. A restlessness emerges not only from the dissonant and unresolved harmonic progressions but more importantly, from the improvisatory setting of those parts. There is no question that this sense of improvisation is an illusion, as the piece is carefully notated and organized as much as any composition must be; that is the paradox – disorder and chaos must arise out of the strictest order and discipline. This would not be achieved, as it so masterfully is in this recording, were it not for both composer and performer. Ann Schein gives so much life to each moment that one can hardly miss the dramatic trajectory inherent in the work.
It is so clear because it so unbelievably focused and concentrated, unlike the younger Carter’s work on this CD. The Piano Sonata is a bit of a wandering, beastly thing. I say beastly because of the bombastic nature of the piano writing, which is not necessarily negative. It does however wander. And it is saturated as opposed to concentrated. In Copland’s Piano Variations the frames are immediately exposed, as in a play the set is defined and the characters thereafter can interact in a realistic world within a world. In some way, each moment in the Carter piece carries with it a certain rejection of what preceded it. I am speaking of the psychological consequences. In a sense everything is simultaneously the beginning, the middle, and the end. It is both the antecedent and the consequent phrases. I do not demand adherence to classical forms but such forms were not arbitrarily concocted. They react to inherent and timeless psychological preconditions, and whatever mode or language one’s music adopts, the psychological impact on the listener must always be considered. Play the Piano Variations after the Piano Sonata and you will clearly hear maturity and stability against a search for musical identity. This is an early work of Carter’s, on the cusp of his musical fruition in the mid-’40s with more noteworthy works such as the Sonata for Cello and Piano and the 1st String Quartet.
The remaining works on the CD, Copland’s Sonata for Violin and Piano and the contemporary John Patitucci’s Lakes are both very sound performances. The former is far more traditional and more in the language of Appalachian Spring than the Piano Variations. This is not a criticism but I cannot help but be more drawn to the Variations and feel that it outshines all its companions on the recording. Patitucci’s Lakes seems at first to be an odd addition. as the other works are from the ‘30s and ‘40s and are clearly socially and musically intertwined, while this work was written in 2007, and its composer is a jazz bassist. The explanation, I believe, is that it was written for Ann Schein. It is a strong and interesting work, and... remains a refreshing close to the CD."
Thomas Healy, Classical Voice of New England - October 2009
"Ann Schein excels in Carter's Sonata. Schein gives a highly persuasive and engaging account. Her performance of Copland's Piano Variations is accomplished, too...In the Violin Sonata Schein is joined by her husband Earl Carlyss for a performance that is by turns lyrical and rhythmically vibrant."
BBC Music Magazine - October 2009 [ * * * * ]
"Ann Schein gives impressive performances of [the Carter and Copland]...[she] is joined by Earl Carlyss for a fine reading of [the] Violin Sonata..."
Turok's Choice - No.214, October 2009
"I can't figure out which is the stand-out here - Ann Schein's playing or the pieces she chose to play. Either way, everyone wins. Ann Schein (joined by her husband, Earl Carlyss) brings an easy confidence to modern works for piano... Ms. Schein brings out the balanced richness of the [Carter]... This is a Carter you have never heard, and she does him justice... This is an excellent gathering of works, excellently performed. I recommend this for the Copland, but the Carter makes a keeper."
Cook, American Record Guide - September / October 2009
"She performs [the Carter] convincingly... Schein’s performance [of Copland’s Piano Variations] balances dissonance with vision... Violinist Earl Carlyss, a member of the Juilliard Quartet for 20 years, plays [Copland's violin sonata] exquisitely. John Patitucci is a jazz composer and bass player who wrote a thoughtful and dramatic short work for his friend Ann Schein called Lake, which ends the disc. The recording is beautifully-balanced and luxurious. A wonderful disc of early twentieth century American music."
Robert Moon, Audiophile Audition - July 2009
"[Ms. Schein] has personally known Carter for many years and has a deep love, admiration, and understanding of his work. [Copland's Piano Variations] are performed in a way that doubtless would have delighted Copland himself... [Copland’s Sonata For Violin And Piano] is beautifully performed here by both musicians. Ann Schein [also] performs Lakes by the renowned jazz musician John Patitucci. It is a piece that was written and dedicated to Ann in 2007. [Patitucci writes] ‘I am honoured that she has connected with this piece in such a powerful way and made it her own'".
Jeff Perkins, BlogCritics - June 2009
"Thank heaven for Ann Schein…what a relief it is to hear a pianist who, with no muss or fuss, simply reaches right into the heart of whatever she is playing–and creates music so powerful you cannot tear yourself away."
The Washington Post
PROGRAM NOTESFrom ANN SCHEIN’s first recordings for Kapp Records, and her highly acclaimed Carnegie Hall recital debut as an artist on the Sol Hurok roster, her career has earned her high praise in major American and European cities and in more than 50 countries around the world. Ms. Schein has performed with renowned conductors including George Szell, James Levine, Seiji Ozawa, James de Preist, David Zinman, Stanislaw Skrowacewski and Sir Colin Davis, and with major orchestras including the New York Philharmonic, Philadelphia Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Baltimore Symphony, Washington National Symphony, London Philharmonic, London Symphony and BBC Symphony Orchestra. She performed at the White House during the Kennedy administration.
In 1980-81, Ann Schein extended the legacy of her teachers, Mieczyslaw Munz, Arthur Rubinstein and Dame Myra Hess performing six concerts of the major Chopin repertoire in Alice Tully Hall throughout an entire season to outstanding reviews and sold-out houses–it was the first Chopin cycle presented in New York in 35 years. With soprano Jessye Norman she has appeared in cities across the United States , as well as a tour in Brazil . The artists are featured in songs of Alban Berg on Sony Classical.
Ann Schein is one of an exclusive roster of pianists chosen to present piano recitals in new venues in American cities and communities under the auspices of the Adams Foundation Piano Recital Series, which has sponsored more than 100 recitals in 25 communities in 19 states. From 1980 to 2000, Ms. Schein was on the piano faculty of the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore . She has been an artist-faculty member of the Aspen Music Festival and School since 1984. Her performance of Rachmaninoff ’s Piano Concerto No.3 during the 2006 season with conductor Joseph Silverstein was one of the most recent of over 100 performances of this work since the beginning of her career. She was chosen to hold the Victoria and Ronald Simms Chair, awarded to a member of the Aspen piano faculty for two years, for the summers of 2006 and 2007, extended to 2008 in special recognition of her teaching prominence. She was invited to join the piano faculty of Indiana University as Visiting Professor during the 2008-09 season. Appearances in the same season included concerts in Beijing and Seoul , in addition to her many concerts across the united States . Ann Schein is married to Earl Carlyss, with whom she performs frequently as a Duo.
Between 1966 and 1986, EARL CARLYSS was a member of the Juilliard String Quartet during which time he performed over 2100 concerts and recorded more than 100 works. Three of their recordings, the Debussy and Ravel Quartets, the Schoenberg Quartets, and the Beethoven Quartets, received Grammy Awards for the “Best Chamber Music Recording of the Year”. Since 1960 the quartet has been in residence at the Library of Congress inWashington, D.C. and, for 9 years, at Michigan State University . In 1984 they were awarded the degree of Doctor of Fine Arts at MSU. Mr.Carlyss,who was born in Chicago ,began violin studies at the age of 10.Between 1955 and 1957 he attended the Paris Conservatoire, studying violin with Roland Charmy and chamber music with Jacques Février. In 1957, he entered the Juilliard School as a pupil of Ivan Galamian, and in 1962 he made his recital debut in New York . Prior to joining the Juilliard String Quartet, he served as concertmaster of the New York City Ballet Orchestra.
Mr. Carlyss has been the Director of the Aspen Center for Advanced Quartet Studies since 1984. Between 1986 and 2001 he was the first holder of the Sidney M Friedberg Chair in Chamber Music at the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore. He currently directs the Seminar for String Quartet Literature for freshmen at the Juilliard School in New York City . He is married to pianist Ann Schein, with whom he plays frequent concerts and duo recitals.